When Shooting a Gun is Fun… Until it’s Not
Back and forth arguments over guns bring me back to a childhood in Texas. And I have to admit — it’s not so simple.
By Kevin Wood
Here we are again.
The fervor over the issue of guns in America long ago reached a fever pitch. But firearm tragedies continue at a staggering rate. In November 2019, in southern California, yet another school was shot up. As a former teacher, these horrific events particularly shake me.
After each sad incident, zero/sum arguments made by both sides over the Second Amendment predictably ensue. This strikes me too.
I live in New York City and frequently hear strong anti-gun sentiment from people who have never been around, much less, fired a gun. I personally support much stronger gun control. There’s no conceivable reason for civilians to possess assault weapons.
And yet, when I hear the back and forth arguments over gun ownership and I think about guns myself, it brings me back to a childhood in Texas. And I have to admit — it’s not so simple.
Growing up, shooting a gun seemed like a natural rite of passage. In suburban Houston — where I spent most of my childhood — all the boys, and none of the girls, had BB guns. I got mine for Christmas before I turned seven. Our guns were a source of play.
In our lily-white neighborhood, unlike urban areas of the city besieged by gun violence and police brutality, we had the casual privilege of feeling emboldened, and never fearful, of guns.
We shot empty cans off the top of old boxes, listening for the ping of striking metal. I aimed at pecans in my grandpa’s front-yard tree. My brother and I had BB-gun fights in the house when my parents were gone. The hits stung, but the guns weren’t strong enough to break skin.
When we were a bit older, we boys on the block had guns wars in the nearby woods. We’d set a few logical rules — like no shooting at the head — and if you got hit, you were out. By then we’d progressed from BB’s to…